The clay season could be wildly different from the just-concluded US Open, says No. 4-ranked Karolina Pliskova.
A few weeks into the game's return from shutdown, the top names now have to adjust to playing back-to-back big events on hard courts and clay as the Premier 5-level WTA event in Rome begins this week. Most have played just a few events since their five-month layoff.
“I think it's very strange year, so I don't know what can happen. I mean, you can feel great, but I feel like still not having enough matches and not having enough tournaments can be maybe a little weird for me,” Pliskova told press before starting play in Rome. “So no matter how good you feel on the practice court, still you have to somehow put it into matches. That's what I think everybody is going to try to do now."
Players who stayed in Europe and played on clay don't necessarily have an advantage against those with more recent match play on the hard courts of Flushing Meadows, according to the big-hitting Pliskova.
"I don't think there is big difference of playing America, or playing just in Europe. Most of the girls, they just played some tournaments," she said. "So I think we just start from zero. So I think now anything can happen every day. Every week there can be strange results. But that's how it is. I just think it's still good that tennis is back.”
But one big change for the players will be the potential return of crowds at the French Open, which has announced it will have 5,000 spectators in its two biggest stadiums and 1,500 in this third-largest stadium. There were no crowds at the US Open, and there are also no fans this week at Rome.
“I don't know how safe it's gonna be. Somehow for now I cannot really imagine going from these bubbles to having I don't know how many thousands of people there,” the Czech said.
“So to be honest, I didn't really like research and study how everything is going to be there, but I guess at some point it's going to have to start with people, as well. I'm not sure if the virus is just going to somehow just leave. Even if we start next year or even the tournaments later, I think some people it's okay to have. I don't know how much is safe, but, for tennis it's good. I'm sure that [the] French Open and Paris, they're just going to make sure that the organization is going to be super careful.”
Pliskova is the second seed at Rome and the defending champion.